Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Videodrome (II) - The Philadelphia Experiment

This edition of Videodrome is inspired by Crucial Chris, who passed along this video of comedian Bill Burr eviscerating the entire city of Philadelphia. This is the perfect opportunity to take a look back at some of Philly's greatest hits. That city is genuinely unique, for good and bad. It can't be all bad. This is the city that produced the Bloodhound Gang and Relapse Records, plus Mr. Bill Cosby. You be the judge.

Bill Burr (Chappelle's Show, Breaking Bad) torches Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Eagles fans boo Santa Claus and pelt him with snowballs.

Eagles fans cheer Michael Irvin's neck injury.

Eagles fans heckle Giants fan at stadium.

Phillies fans boo the shit out of JD Drew (they would later throw batteries at him).

Flyers fans boo Sarah Palin (okay, that's not that bad).

76ers fans cheer Joakim Noah's ankle injury.

Suspect shoots up Philadelphia strip club with AK-47 after scuffle with bouncers.

Philadelphia muslims protest those wearing burkas in order to commit robberies.

Documentary about the Bruno Crime Family based out of (wait for it) Philadelphia.

I could keep going like this all day but you get the idea. Consult your search engine of choice for further information.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry of Consciousness

This review originally appeared in local alt-weekly paper ROCKSTAR vol. 1, issue 4; available now all over Central Texas. Pick up at copy at a record store, head shop, tattoo parlor, skate shop, or whatever the next time you're down.

Toxic Holocaust
Chemistry of Consciousness

Joel Grind is at it again. The prolific mastermind behind Toxic Holocaust has been mixing classic 80s thrash (think Exodus and early Slayer) with the crusty English d-beat sound (Doom, Discharge, English Dogs, etc...) since 1999. On Toxic Holocaust's fifth LP Chemistry of Consciousness, Joel Grind achieves the impossible. His music is evolving without losing any of the rage and angst of the early work. Sometimes it's one or the other. Usually it's neither, so this is a rare case.

For those already familiar with Toxic Holocaust, Chemistry of Consciousness is more of the same, only bigger and better. The new record echoes the greatness of past works like Evil Never Dies or Hell On Earth but without sounding like a retread. I chalk up the difference to Joel Grind actually performing and recording with a permanent rhythm section. Check out the song "Rat Eater" for an example of what I'm saying.

For the uninitiated, think of Toxic Holocaust as similar to Municipal Waste but less party-centric and far more concerned with the fall of mankind. The punk influence is stronger in Toxic Holocaust than it is with the majority of new-school thrash bands. What separates them from the pack is those driving, d-beat rhythms (similar to Tragedy, His Hero Is Gone, and From Ashes Rise) laying the foundation for riffs that would make Testament drool.

Toxic Holocaust is currently touring the Northeast with Ramming Speed and In Defence, so no Texas dates are on the books for now. However, I'd take the Vegas odds that the band will be here in time for that festival thing that happens here every year during Spring Break. If you saw the 2012 Chaos In Tejas show with Midnight, then you know how neck-breakingly awesome Toxic Holocaust's live show is. My advice is to buy a copy of Chemistry of Consciousness and then to patiently wait outside of Red7 for the band to arrive.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ghost BC - If You Have Ghost

Ghost BC
If You Have Ghost
Loma Vista

I'm still a firm believer that Sweden is the only country that can out-metal the U.S.A. The "best governed country on the planet", according to The Economist, has produced such musically brutal luminaries as Entombed, Meshuggah, In Flames, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, HammerFall, Dark Tranquillity, Opeth, Dismember, and the singular force of nature known as Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Having such high regard for the nation of Sweden and its legacy of brutality, it's with a heavy heart that I must report that the worst metal band ever thrust upon humanity has released a new record.

Yep, Papa-New-Ghostie And The Ghostly Ghosts have released a cover-song EP on an unsuspecting public like so much Sarin gas in a Tokyo subway. Dave Grohl produced this piece of garbage, but he constantly gets talked into participating in questionable projects so you can't blame this on him. This atrocity can only be blamed on the band.

So, Hipster Slipknot decided to highlight some alleged influences. To be fair, a significant number of metal and hardcore bands have taken influence from Depeche Mode over the years but those bands, like In Flames and Dimmu Borgir, put their own heavy spin on it. Ghost B.C. has managed to make "Waiting for the Night" sound even wimpier than the original. Roky Erickson, ABBA, and Army of Lovers, along with Depeche Mode, get the Ghost B.C.-lite-rock treatment and this 20-minute-long sleeping pill is capped with a live version of Ghost B.C.'s song "Secular Haze."

My problem with Posey The Friendly Ghosts is the same problem I've had since Opus Eponymous was released: this band ain't heavy. Ghost is barely rock music and is certainly not heavy metal. Heavy metal is meant to be heavy but Ghost B.C. is determined to make Bon Jovi sound like Marduk. The record and this band are both pure rubbish and should be thrown into the sun.

However, I know you're not going to listen to me. You're not going to let things like Ghost B.C. being comprised of the former members of Repugnant get in the way of enjoying the hot buzz band of the moment. After all, the members of Repugnant didn't wear fancy robes, did they? Also, there's nothing more brutal than signing with a record company based out of Beverly Hills. Also-also, there's nothing more brutal than opening for Avenged Sevenfold in every NBA arena on the continent. If You Have Ghost is highly recommended for the superficial and those who can't get past the imagery.

Listen to the full-album stream here. Check out the lead single (the Roky Erickson cover) below:


Carcass - Surgical Steel

Surgical Steel
Nuclear Blast

It's finally here, the first new Carcass album since 1996's aptly titled Swansong. Already legends in the grindcore and melodic death metal scenes. Carcass is one of the rare bands (along with At The Gates) that got more popular after they broke up. Pretty much since the Winter of 1996, the metal public has been demanding that Carcass reunite. After 16 years, three presidencies, three pointless wars, and 27 fully-unnecessary seasons of Survivor, it's finally here. The vinyl has been shipped and Surgical Steel has landed on the shelf of your favorite record store.

So, how does it sound?

For those holding out hope for a return to the Symphonies of Sickness/Reek of Putrefaction style of gore-grind, it pains me to tell you that you'll be disappointed. For everyone else on the planet, Surgical Steel is without a doubt the album of the year.

If Surgical Steel sounds like any of the old stuff, it most closely sounds like Necroticism. For the uninitiated, this 1992 album marks the change in the Carcass sound from gore-grind to melodic death metal. Necroticism, along with Slaughter of the Soul, was the playbook for the American metalcore movement of the early 2000s.

Surgical Steel does pick up where Necroticism and Heartwork left off but, more importantly, the new record sounds fresh. The stench of desperation doesn't cling to this reunion unlike so many of the others (have you heard that new Orgy? Yikes...). Unlike the other reunions, the public actually has a thirst for new Carcass music and Carcass has something to prove.

What tore apart the band during its initial run was record label politics and typical showbiz crap. Plus, at a time in the mid-90s when death metal was a watered-down shell of itself (it's since recovered), founding members Jeff Walker and Bill Steer wanted to play other styles of music. Now, Carcass has unfinished business. In a recent interview, Steer said that Surgical Steel was written with heavy emphasis placed on writing strong riffs. This is to counteract the newer bands that play rhythms more than they play riffs (think the Acacia Strain).

Unfortunately, original drummer Ken Owen, who suffered a brain hemorrhage in 1999, is physically unable to continue as a full-time member. In his place is Daniel Wilding (ex-Aborted, ex-Trigger The Bloodshed) with guitarist Ben Ash replacing Michael Amott, who is busy being the head honcho of Arch Enemy. The point of all of this is that Carcass is back and Surgical Steel marks another new chapter in the history of this band.

This is the necessary reunion. Now we just need someone to get Phil and Vinnie talking again and then we've got a stew going, baby.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Protest The Hero - Volition

This was written two weeks ago and was scheduled to appear on another website. However, that editor can not be reached and I suspect that said website/publication may not be in business much longer. Fortunately, No Funeral is up and running so you can jam the new Protest The Hero at your leisure. Moral of the story: This is why you stay DIY. Enjoy!

Protest The Hero
self-released (sort of (not really))

Here's the new album from Ontario's prog/tech/core/scene-sweethearts Protest The Hero. Volition is the end result of a tumultuous year for the band. Back in January, Protest The Hero came to its senses and left Vagrant Records. This was followed by the announcement of an indiegogo.com fundraising campaign to record and release the new LP. The band asked for $125K and received over $340K. Normally, I ridicule and taunt those beggars using crowd-funding to extend their 15 minutes of fame but when the funds are double of the fundraising goal, there's clearly pent-up market demand (and all that jazz).

But Protest The Hero had another problem. In June, drummer and founding member Moe Carlson bounced out of the band to go back to school. The band stayed on scheduled and got (of all freaking people) Chris Adler from Lamb of God to fill in during recording. After absorbing some pretty serious blows, things were starting to look good for Protest The Hero; but then the record leaked.

Scheduled for release on October 29, 2013, Volition is being rushed to stores by semi-major label Razor & Tie in order to combat the leak. Now, if you take the MRR/hardline approach, Volition can not be called a DIY release. This is true but it's also not the point. The point is for the record to be released without the corrosive fingerprints of the scam artists know as Vagrant Records smeared all over it.

This is all terrific news for the bean counters, but how does the record sound?

In a word, it sounds terrific. I never really dug Protest The Hero. I once reviewed the band's Fortress album for another website and I certainly didn't dig it back then. Their old stuff sounded like Coheed And Cambria with slightly more testosterone. But things change and here we are, faced possibly with the metal album of the year.

Volition can't be summed with its influences because the album is all over the place as far as style and genre are concerned. Plus the album fulfills its goal of being genuinely unique. It's a whirlwind blend of prog-rock, technical death metal, and non-brainless metalcore from the early 2000s with damn-near falsettos on top of the whole thing. Imagine an alternate-universe version of At The Drive-In that is obsessed Opeth and Starkweather.

As someone who is chasing originality with my heaviness, I'm happy to report that I've hit the jackpot. All preconceived notions of this band should be abandoned immediately. Not into metal? This is the perfect place to start. Highly recommended for the literate and for audio bravehearts.